Row over Rushdie deepens, complaints filed, suspense over video link

Jaipur: The row over Salman Rushdie deepened today with five complaints being filed against the four authors who read out passages from his banned ‘Satanic Verses’ at the Literature Festival and its organisers, as suspense grew whether his video address will take place tomorrow.

As the controversy over the 65-year-old India-born author continued to dog the Festival for the fourth day, a Festival organiser Sanjoy K Roy said the video address will go ahead as scheduled at 3.45 PM tomorrow.

"We are figuring out the best way to do that. We are trying to ensure that we are able to go ahead in a way that does not jeopardise or put anyone at risk," he told reporters.

Roy said some clarifications sought by police to their letter have been given in a second communication.

He claimed that organisers have not been told by police that permission would be required for the video link.

A senior government official said tonight that police have sought some details from the organisers relating to Rushdie`s video conferencing and no decision was taken from the government`s side in this matter so far. He said the organisers will have to take persmission.

The four complaints before local courts in Jaipur and one in Ajmer, all in Rajasthan, sought directions to police to lodge FIRs against the persons named and to probe the matter, police sources and Human Rights activist Kavita Srivastava said.

Those named in the complaints were authors Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar, Jeet Thayil and Ruchir Joshi and the three organisers--Namita Gokhale, William Dalrymple and Sanjoy Roy.

Abdul Latif in his capacity as secretary of All India Milli Council and Muslim Mahasabha are among those who filed the complaints, one of them which is likely come up in court tomorrow.

According to Kavita, a member belonging to BJP minorities cell is among the complainants.

The complaint in Ajmer was lodged by Muzaffar Bharti, who represents a local group, in his personal capacity.

"We will be sticking to the law of the land..." Roy said.

He said Rushdie's address is going to be about his work "Midnight's Children" and his journey from childhood to his present position.

"We were unclear about what needs to be done. We have sent the letter police asked for some more details we are sending that now. They have asked for clarification," he added.

"We have not been told by the police that it can't happen and that we would need a prior permission. We are trying to ensure that we are able to go ahead in a way that does not jeopardise or put anybody at risk," he added,

When asked about the cases being slapped against him and the four authors, he said "We have not been formally informed about them as yet ... we have taken some informal legal advice but we are completely at sea on what do we need to take the advice for."

Asked about the details for the video link event, Roy said, "We have given Salman Rushdie two formats on how it should work. At present I dont see see it going into any other format unless Salman wants."

Asked where Rushdie was based right now, he said, "Right now he is in Europe."

When asked whether the police had sought restrictions on the video address tommorow, he said so far no such undertaking has been sought.


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